Blue Demon (2004)
Starring Dedee Pfeiffer, Randall Batinkoff, Jeff Fahey
Directed by Dan Grodnick
Going into Blue Demon I found myself wondering if the makers of these killer shark movies are getting more creative or more desperate? Just in the past few months we’ve had Hammerhead: Shark Frenzy with a man-shark and Raging Sharks that tossed UFOs and extraterrestrials into the mix. Now along comes Blue Demon, the world’s first suicide bomber shark movie, a film I’d been dying to see since first learning about it late last year. After watching Blue Demon I can answer that opening question: they’re becoming more desperate.
Blue Demon is so bad that not only do I find myself never wanting to watch another killer shark movie; I wouldn’t shed a tear if every species of shark on the planet went extinct tomorrow. I know it’s hard to believe that this particular shark movie could somehow be infinitely worse than so many of the other shark movies of the past few years but I assure you that Blue Demon dwarfs all others when it comes to being a stupefyingly awful motion picture.
The makers of Blue Demon were more than aware of the fact that they were making a cheesy, audacious shark movie and did so by trying to turn the film into a comedy. This would be all well and good if the comedy was funny. Instead, we get an unappealing mix of bad sitcom humor and the kind of broad stereotypes and puerile gags I used to see in the lousy sex comedies that used to air on USA "Up All Night" over a decade ago. At the same time, the film has the look and feel of the kind of movie made for the PAX Network. The whole time I was watching Blue Demon I kept having flashbacks to a similar god awful film dealing with killer bats called Fangs. That’s not a film I ever want to be reminded of. I’ve always said that the worst kind of bad movie is a bad comedy because you can’t even derive any unintentional humor from a bad comedy since it was supposed to be funny to begin with and Blue Demon is the worst kind of bad movie because it wants to be funny but isn’t and clearly thinks it’s a lot more humorous than it actually is. Four screenwriters are credited with writing Blue Demon; that means that the movie has four coats of suck painted on it
Dedee Pfeiffer (Michelle’s kid sister) and Randall Batinkoff play estranged husband and wife scientists working on a top secret Pentagon project to genetically engineer sharks that can survive in both fresh and salt water with the intention to train them to protect America’s waterways from terrorist threats. They’re supposed to be brilliant but neither ever gives you the sense that they even have a functioning brain cell in their head let alone genius IQs. Imagine if the vacuous blonde daughter from "Eight Simple Rules" grew up to be a supposedly brilliant scientist; that’s exactly how Pfeiffer plays her role. Batinkoff plays his role like he would if the character he was playing were supposed to be a cocky frat boy, one that occasionally spouts off scientific jargon. The constantly bickering couple is on the verge of a divorce but clearly still have feelings with one another leading to many brutally painful attempts at cutesy dialogue exchanges. This is the kind of banter I’d expect to hear in a sitcom that gets cancelled after only six episodes.
More bad humor manifests itself in the form of their vertically challenged boss. Having a dwarf for a boss might have been tolerable but the film can’t help itself and we end up with sight gags like when the diminutive boss is standing at a podium for a speech and the top of his head barely peeks over the top. This gag isn’t the least bit funny the first time you see it and it sure as hell isn’t funny when the film repeats it again within the very same scene. This character is also portrayed as one of those loudmouth sitcom bosses who’s constantly harping on his employees and launching less than clever insults. Did I say this sitcom would get cancelled after only six episodes? Let me amend that to only three.
And then there’s Jeff Fahey. Oh God, Jeff Fahey… He plays General Remora. Yeah, Remora, as in the Remora shark...Ugh. General Remora is named the new head of the military project and Fahey spends every waking moment on camera hamming it up badly as humanly possible playing Remora as a cigar chomping caricature that shifts between a General MacArthur impersonation and a broad Clint Eastwood parody. If you believe in the concept of reincarnation then Jeff Fahey overacts badly enough for five lifetimes.
Someone sabotages the project allowing the school of genetically engineered sharks to get out where they eat two of the project’s underwater maintenance workers. Then, Batinkoff’s character gets scapegoated and far too much time is devoted to Pfeiffer trying to break him out of the brig. Meanwhile, the sharks are in the waters surrounding San Francisco setting up a bunch of clichéd scenes with unexpectedly bad results.
A father is teaching his young daughter to fish. He accidentally falls into the water. The sharks surround him AND DO NOT EAT HIM!
Young lovers strip down to their underwear and go for a romantic swim. A shark slowly approaches them from behind AND DOES NOT EAT THEM!
I’m fairly certain that Blue Demon will go down in history as the Jaws inspired knock-off with the fewest deaths; four in total, I believe. I knew going in given both the premise and the PG-13 rating that this wouldn’t be a typical shark movie, but given that a whole school of Great White sharks get unleashed into coastal waterways and still hardly anyone dies - a single surfer is all they manage to make a meal out of when converging on a crowded beach - it really is quite pathetic.
But not nearly as pathetic as the film’s finale where the smartest shark in the school is sent by the saboteur to plant the neutron bomb in its jaws on the Golden Gate Bridge, which looks to have been done in 1st generation Pixar animation. But little time is devoted to the actual suicide bomber shark aspect and more is devoted to our annoying lovebirds involved in a car chase with the saboteur and more rancid scene chewing by their boss and especially Fahey. It’s also established early on that Pfeiffer’s character is a whiz at playing ring toss; sure enough, she ends up thwarting the gun-toting villain by tossing a lifesaver ring around him. Ugh.
Blue Demon is what I call a genre killer. The whole killer shark genre that has been occupying space on DVD shelves is now officially dead. The genre’s death certificate will read: KILLED BY BLUE DEMON. Rest in peace.
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